JOTA’s chief engineer has praised the “huge effort” from both his crew and McLaren Customer Racing to get the No. 38 McLaren 720S GT3 repaired in time for this weekend’s 3 Hours of the Nürburgring after a huge accident at Brands Hatch last Sunday.
JOTA is using the same chassis in which Oliver Wilkinson cleared the outer barriers at Dingle Dell and ended up in the bushes after contact near the end of last weekend’s opening Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup race.
Wilkinson, who was leading at the time of the incident, walked away from the wreckage.
The Englishman is teaming up with fellow McLaren factory drivers Ben Barnicoat and Rob Bell for the upcoming GTWC Europe Endurance Cup round at the Nürburgring.
Chief engineer Nathan McColl explained that the nature of the impact meant the chassis escaped damage while the engine and gearbox were also deemed retainable. The rest of the car, however, has been subject to a “ground-up” rebuild over the last four days.
“We stripped the car during the race meeting on Sunday and got it back to the workshop,” he told Sportscar365.
“We went through it with a fine-tooth comb. We were lucky that while the bolt-on pieces on the front and the rear were damaged, the actual safety cell was completely intact.
“That has helped the preparation a rather great deal. The guys have just been working around the clock to get it here today.
“Basically every piece of bodywork, both the front and rear sub-frames, were damaged. Some of the suspension components were bent.
“Apart from the tub, it’s been a ground-up rebuild. A lot of the components are new on the car.
“In some respects, the way the crash happened, the landing wasn’t too severe and there wasn’t a big, sudden stop. We’re thankful for [that] because it’s kept Ollie and the car relatively unscathed.”
McColl explained that a replacement chassis would have created a much more challenging preparation window between Brands Hatch and the Nürburgring.
“It always makes things more complicated from the wiring, seat position and little bits and pieces that would probably be another day or two of preparation,” he said.
“The car only just arrived today, so we’re lucky in some respects that the center of the car was unscathed.”
JOTA tested its engine and gearbox on a static rig before re-installing both into the vehicle, while the engineering team has been “poring over” data during the last few days.
The No. 38 McLaren will turn laps in its repaired state for the first time tomorrow during the pair of one-hour paid test sessions for GTWC Europe teams.
McColl added that while JOTA’s crew members had a late night of post-race work on Sunday as the team figured out its approach for the following days, the joint response from the team and McLaren made the overall repair process “manageable”.
“The Brands Hatch pit lane is basically on an island, so we couldn’t get the car out of the race meeting until it finished,” he explained.
“We spent quite a lot of Sunday pulling apart what we could pull apart, to keep it rolling enough to put it in the trailer and diagnose as much as we could.
“We got back to the workshop at about 7 p.m. on Sunday night and then worked until midnight getting it stripped and making sure we had the parts list to get into action during the week.
“It’s not been too bad. The parts supply from McLaren has been really excellent. The factory and the customer support people snapped into action on Sunday.
“They had people coming in to work, so it was a huge effort from both them and us.
“It’s meant that while the guys are tired, it’s not been 24 hours to rebuild it. It’s actually been manageable. All credit to everyone involved.”